A Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has declared as “null” and “void” the nomination of Miss Aida Nath Ogwuche as the House of Representatives candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for Ado/Okpokwu/Ogbadibo Federal Constituency of Benue State.
In her place, the court declared Hon. Francis Ottah Agbo as the valid candidate of the party in the Constituency; in a unanimous judgement delivered by a three-man panel on Thursday.
The appellate court held that Miss Ogwuche, who was declared winner of the PDP primaries by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, was still a staff of the Federal Inland Revenue Services, FIRS, as at the time of the election.
Agbo, who is the current member representing the Federal Constituency and Chairman of the House Committee on Narcotics and Drugs, came second at the disputed primary election in May 2022.
Consequently, the court ordered INEC to immediately withdraw the certificate of return issued to Miss Ogwuche and re-issue the same to Agbo as the validly nominated candidate of the party for the federal seat.
Reading the lead judgment, Justice B.I Gafai said Ogwuche should have resigned her employment from FIRS before contesting in the PDP primary election.
“The decision of the lower court recognising the participation and election of the first respondent in the election is illegal and unlawful”, the Judge said.
The panel relied on Section 66 (I) (f) of the 1999 Constitution to declare Ogwuche’s election as unlawful and invalid.
The Federal High Court sitting in Makurdi, had on November 11, 2022, declared Ogwuche as the duly elected candidate of the PDP for the Ado/Okpokwu/Ogbadibo Federal Constituency.